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CJEU Case C-524/15 / Judgment

Criminal proceedings against Luca Menci

Policy area:
Justice, freedom and security
Deciding Body type:
Court of Justice of the European Union
Deciding Body:
Court (Grand Chamber)
Decision date:

Key facts of the case:

Reference for a preliminary ruling — Value added tax (VAT) — Directive 2006/112/EC — Failure to pay VAT due — Penalties — National legislation which provides for an administrative penalty and a criminal penalty for the same acts — Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union — Article 50 — Ne bis in idem principle — Criminal nature of the administrative penalty — Existence of the same offence — Article 52(1) — Limitations to the ne bis in idem principle — Conditions.

Outcome of the case:

On those grounds, the Court (Grand Chamber) hereby rules:

1. Article 50 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union must be interpreted as not precluding national legislation in accordance with which criminal proceedings may be brought against a person for failing to pay value added tax due within the time limits stipulated by law, although that person has already been made subject, in relation to the same acts, to a final administrative penalty of criminal nature for the purposes of Article 50 of the Charter, on condition that that legislation

  • pursues an objective of general interest which is such as to justify such a duplication of proceedings and penalties, namely combating value added tax offences, it being necessary for those proceedings and penalties to pursue additional objectives,
  • contains rules ensuring coordination which limits to what is strictly necessary the additional disadvantage which results, for the persons concerned, from a duplication of proceedings, and
  • provides for rules making it possible to ensure that the severity of all of the penalties imposed is limited to what is strictly necessary in relation to the seriousness of the offence concerned.

2. It is for the national court to ensure, taking into account all of the circumstances in the main proceedings, that the actual disadvantage resulting for the person concerned from the application of the national legislation at issue in the main proceedings and from the duplication of the proceedings and penalties that that legislation authorises is not excessive in relation to the seriousness of the offence committed.